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Meet Sarah Dery of New England Historic Genealogical Society in Back Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Dery.

Sarah, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Personally, I think that I have an odd career path, but I’ve always been interested in history and culture. Growing up, I was always interested in King Tut, Egyptian history, and different cultures through the world. In 2001, I graduated from North Attleboro High School, MA. I did not have the greatest grades in High School, so I attended Community College of Rhode Island in Lincoln, RI for (1) year. In the Fall of 2002, I transferred to the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, MA with my best friend. We lived on campus and after (2) years at UMD, I found that I was no longer interested in school. I couldn’t concentrate. I was always skipping classes. Being from a family that could help support my college dream, I felt that I could not keep wasting money – so I withdrew from college.

In the Summer of 2004, I got a job in a Hotel in downtown Newport, Rhode Island. I worked at this hotel for (4) years and was promoted quickly to Front Desk Manager. I was 25 years old and on-call 24/7. After one-year of hotel management, I quit and moved onto a retail job at Best Buy. I worked as the Operations Supervisor at Best Buy for (2) years. On a vacation from work, I decided to participate in an archaeological dig at President James Madison’s Montpelier home in Virginia. This week-long expedition of digging in the trash midden opened my eyes to a career that I never thought possible. Two weeks after I returned to my retail job, I quit and enrolled full-time at Rhode Island College in the Anthropology department. At this point in my life, I had quit a lot – jobs, friendships, diets, etc. but, I knew that my chance to do something interesting was on my horizon.

At Rhode Island College, I was older than most students – which I think gave me the upper hand with my professors. They respected me more, they took an interest in my personal life and worked with me to succeed. At the time, I didn’t realize how exceptional the professors at RIC were, but today, I owe a lot of my career success to them and those archaeologists that I spent a week with at Montpelier.

When graduating with a degree in Anthropology in 2012, there was not a lot of direct career paths to choose. But, I always loved history and learning about different cultures in the world – so, I chose museums. After working in a call-center (cable, internet and telephone!) for one year after graduating college, I applied for a position at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. I uprooted myself from Bristol, Rhode Island where I owned a condo for 8 years and moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Plymouth. I worked in the Group Sales Office and scheduled field trips to the living history museum for schools around the country. In one year, I was promoted to a position within the Education Department where I excelled in implementing computer software systems and was able to spread my wings in an area that thrived on knowledge. After four years at Plimoth Plantation, I saw that I could not move upward in the organization, so I started to search again.

Six years after graduating with a degree in Anthropology, I am now working at The New England Historic Genealogical Society as the Research Services Coordinator. I work for an organization that respects their employees and uses their strengths to help people learn more about their ancestors, their DNA, and where they come from. During my time at RIC, I completed my own ancestry tree with roots that trace to Quebec, France and Ireland. I am proud to work alongside (15) of the brightest Researchers in the Genealogy field today. NEHGS is a world-renowned organization and we receive thousands of ancestries requests each year!

Growing up, I always found myself struggling with life. I never knew what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be in life by the time I hit age 35. But, now, I’m 35 years old, I live in America’s Hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts and I work for a historic genealogical society in Boston, Massachusetts. I am comfortable in my skin and I am proud to look back on my career path to know that it all started with a one-week archaeological expedition and some amazing people to help me succeed along the way.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road! From my previous write-up on how I got to be where I am today – I went to (3) different colleges, had MANY different jobs (hospitality, big-box retail, call center associate, I worked on a farm for 1-week!, etc.), and it took me a lot of failures along the way to find what I am truly good at and what I enjoy doing with my work-day.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with New England Historic Genealogical Society – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I work for the New England Historic Genealogical Society on Newbury Street, in Boston, MA. I am the Research Services Coordinator where I help our research staff, our members, and our daily visitors with their genealogical research.

My day is quite busy…always! I answer client questions through email and telephone calls. I speak with clients about hiring a researcher to conduct research on their family, which results in gathering family information, documents and records which may help the researcher with the project search. I handle all in-coming and out-going project cases that are hired services with our Research Services team. I work closely with each department at NEHGS daily to ensure our clients and visitors can use our resources online and in our library. I write a monthly blog post for our Society’s website called ‘Vita Brevis,’ and use my knowledge in Plymouth Colony history, on the Mayflower journey, and the Passengers of the Mayflower in 1620. And daily, I work to achieve personal goals, department goals and institution goals.

I find that I have learned many different traits from all the jobs I’ve held in my career; Customer Service skills, telephone skills, computer skills, software skills, and management skills. Each job that I’ve had has given me a skill which will help me succeed in the future. I hold those skills closely to me and I try to share my knowledge, experience and skills with my colleagues.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’ve been with NEHGS since May 2017 – so I’m still relatively new!

I have been given the opportunity of representing the Research Services team at the annual genealogical conference in Salt Lake City, Utah called “Roots Tech.” This conference can draw up to 10,000 people from across the country with genealogical as their common interest.

I am also searching for a new place to live – commuting from Plymouth to Boston every day can be exhausting. I look forward to learning more, experiencing more, and looking towards the future.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Headshot taken by NEHGS
All other photos are my own personal photos.

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